Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Inspirational Light Reading for Summer

When it's hot summer weather, there is nothing better (apart from maybe swimming in the sea) than reading a good book or magazine.  I like to get into a really good page-turner but sometimes it's nice to have something you can dip in and out of, like when you're on a plane flight for example.  I've picked two magazines and two books which I found inspirational and three of which you will definitely find interesting if you are into ethical fashion or want to learn a bit more about it.

DO/PURPOSE - Why brands with a purpose do better and matter more. 

By David Hieatt

First of all, I bet a lot of people see this book and don't pick it up because they are not wanting to start a brand - they think it's not relevant to them - but I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to succeed in anything they do. Hieatt's advice could be applied to lots of situations, not just starting a brand. Things he mentions such as the 80/20 rule, the idea that 80% of a creative person's awards/recognition/outcome comes from 20% of your output. We spend 80% of our time doing things we are not that good at such as admin or meetings. Hieatt says we don't need to work more, or even have more hours. We just need to spend more time doing what we are good at, and less time on the other stuff.

'99% of businesses fail for one reason - they never start.'

"You can do anything, but not everything." - David Allen

It's a brilliant book to dip in and out of as there is one point on each double page spread and each page doesn't overwhelm you with information, which also makes it a good book to refer back to.
It is a particularly good book, I think, for people who want to create a brand with a good, ethical ethos.  It covers ideas including how to give your brand purpose, working with people, managing your time and making your brand stand out from the rest.
It may not sound like the kind of book you'd get hooked on, but I read it in just over a day (and I'm not a particularly fast reader).  I was spoilt for choice of excellent quotes to include here - so that says something.  If you applied the wisdom in this book to your line of work - whatever that might be, I think you'd get lots from it. 


By Fashion Revolution

LOVED CLOTHES LAST is the second magazine released by Fashion Revolution which discusses some of the key problems created by the fashion industry. This magazine looks at the issues of waste and mass-consumption in the industry.
The layout of this magazine is also very aesthetically pleasing, with the articles broken up by lots of beautiful illustrations, pictures and quotes (also making it a great magazine to dip in and out of).
I like the sections where people discuss the value a piece of their clothing has to them - by only buying clothes that they truly love, they ultimately chose to take better care of them.

'Less than 1% of collected clothing is truly recycled into fresh textiles'

'Up to 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles, some so toxic that scraps must be handled as toxic waste.'

It tackles questions such as what actually happens to your clothes when you 'recycle' them, why is our society throw so much of our clothing away, how much waste is created in clothing production and how can you care properly for your clothes or give them a new lease of life?
This magazine also has great advice for how to buy, care for and dispose of clothes more responsibly, something I felt compelled to start doing, straight after reading it.

The Unwomanly Face of War

By Svetlana Alexievich

Alexievich's book, telling the individual stories of soviet women's lives is perhaps the most evocative account of World War 2 I have read.  If you are looking for something a little more thought-provoking this is definitely a good book to pick. Even though it might not be light in content, it is a good book to dip in and out of as the book is broken down into a collection of short accounts.

Completed in 1983, Svetlana's book was initially banned from publication as it went against the Soviet's official history of World War 2.  It was first published in 1985, heavily censored, with the uncensored English edition only published in 2017.

The first thing that surprised me was how involved Soviet women were in the war, and how determined they were to be a part of liberating 'the Motherland'.   Some of them were as young as 15 or 16 when they crept away to the front, denied the chance to fight, only later accepted because of the colossal casualties of the men on the front line.  For most of the women, speaking to Svetlana was the first time they had recounted any of their experience of the war to anyone but despite this their accounts are vivid.

There are a great many different and very varied stories in this book, including from ladies who worked as snipers, nurses and pilots.  Some stories tragic, others funny, this is a book about sacrifice, friendship and remembering people. 

Peppermint - Style, Sustainability, Substance

I find it hard to track down UK sellers of this Australian magazine.  I had wanted to read a magazine like this ever since I discovered ethical and slow fashion. Most magazines that are easy to get hold of at a local shop are full of articles encouraging you to spend even more of your money on a throwaway lifestyle so it is nice to read one that is wholesome like Peppermint.

Peppermint promotes local and ethical brands in Australia and sometimes elsewhere in the world, too. All of the articles are feel-good, about people who are making a positive difference in the world or solving a problem.  Issue 33 (photographed below) includes an article about a charity providing opportunities for grandmothers from rural Indian communities to train as skilled solar engineers, enabling their communities to work longer in the winter months and make more money; for many of these ladies it is the first time they have left their home town (find out more here). There is also an article about a man who gives homeless people free haircuts, houses made from plastic bottles and ethical designers. If you are interested in style or sustainability I am confident you would love this magazine.

If you choose to read any of these books I hope you enjoy them! Do you have any book recommendations for this summer?

                                                                      Beccy x


Thursday, 26 July 2018

Interview With Justina Of Ethical Brand La Petite Alice

La Petite Alice has a truly magical Instagram account (@lapetitealiceshop), with photos of the collection in beautiful beach and woodland settings. The designs in La Petite Alice are very distinctive - they are timeless and comfy, made from earthy or pastel coloured linen. Justina's designs range from baby clothes to bags and dresses, most of which are finished with the cutest little hand-embroidered designs of animals.  In a world where almost everything is mass-produced, it is especially lovely to have something embroidered by hand. 

1. What is the inspiration for your designs?

My inspiration is Alice - my daughter who will already be 3 in September. A desire to give her the best things in life took over it all. I try as much as I can to provide her with only natural and organic things... from food to clothing. 
2. Why do you choose to work with linen?

I wanted the clothes to be natural and organic and look a bit French and Vintage. My husband is French, I am Lithuanian and I wanted to find a way to connect everything. So I thought linen would give the best vintage look, plus I had a friend who was very much into linen and she really encouraged me to keep it that way.  Also, linen is a folk Lithuanian material that people forget about and now it's starting it's second life in other people's minds. 

3. Who makes the clothes for La Petite Alice and who embroiders them?

I have one sewing lady who works full time for me, her name is Aleksandra. She left her old job at a sewing studio and now works from her little house, outside of Vilnius. I also have Asta on my team, who helps to shape each cloth and transform my thoughts into reality. And there is Alina, who in fact had never embroidered before, but she just tried once - and voila! I believe she has it in her blood as her Grandma embroidered. I tried to embroider myself, and I can say it's not as easy as it looks like... so my team is very small, but I like it that way. 
4.What inspired you to start your brand?

My little Alice.  She is the reason I decided to create clothes, for her and for other children.  I couldn't find a dress that I would like to buy for her in the shops, so I decided to create one myself... and then somehow it turned into a whole children's line. I remember I wanted to just start with 7 models, where there was not even a dress (now I am laughing)... I still have that draft paper with my drawings. When I look at it, I still have butterflies in my stomach. 

5. How long does it take to embroider each design?

It depends on my complexity of the embroidery, but on average 2-3 hours.

6. The colours and the styles of your designs are very timeless! Do you intend for them to be passed down from generation to generation? 

I love to think about it and I would definitely say - "Yes!!" Actually I am collecting all the clothes Alice is/wearing and I put them in a separate box. I hope one day my grandchildren will be wearing them.  In fact my mother-in-law told me she was wearing passed-down clothes when she was little, so it seems like I am not inventing anything new.  I am reviving things that already existed.  Also, I get so emotional when clients send me messages just to say that they put a La Petite Alice wrap shirt on their baby to bring him or her home from the hospital and will keep that first outfit as something special to remember.  It gives me wonderful emotions! 

7. What projects are you currently working on?

I am working on a couple of things: first of all I am remaking my website.  At the moment sales are only available on the Etsy shop.  I am also working on automating the stocks system.  With this system I am hoping to make communication between me and production people better, smoother and faster and keep the stocks on automatic mode. Despite all that, I am constantly in search of new ideas for clothes to bring to life.   

Thank you very much to Justina for answering my questions.   What a lovely thought that your beautifully crafted clothes are becoming family heirlooms for your customers!

Go and have a look at her beautiful designs over on her Etsy shop here!
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